Follow TV Tropes


The Heretic

Go To
The Inquisition warns you. Plots are made to be enjoyed. Do not analyze. Do not criticize. Eat your Filler and read your mantras daily.

"With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side; the other, on the side of the Church. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. For it is a much graver matter to corrupt the faith which quickens the soul, than to forge money, which supports temporal life. Wherefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death."
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae (II-II, q. 11, art. 3)

The word "heresy" is derived from the Greek word haeresis, meaning "party" or "sect" (as in heterodox splinter group, an organized minority who go against Canon). It is ultimately derived from the verb haireo, meaning (among other things) "to choose," "to prefer," so etymologically, a heretic can be thought of as a person who chooses his own path. This need not be true in practice, of course, as the heretic may adhere to his own set of beliefs just as unreflectively as any mainstream believer. However, under systems which promote rigidly dogmatic ideologies, free-spirited persons who oppose them will almost by default be labeled heretics by the authorities.

The Heretic is someone who has committed Thought Crime or outright treason against The Church; a person who has corrupted, perverted and manipulated its philosophy and ideology. Most commonly, he was once a member of its congregation or even its clergy but got officially excommunicated for propagating beliefs that go against The Church's official dogma. Often, the Church sends out Knights Templar to Kill Them With Fire along with witches. Just being a heretic doesn't mark you evil by default: A heretic to a Saintly Church is often Chaotic Evil, but a heretic to a Corrupt Church or a Path of Inspiration may well be a Defector from Decadence. Or just as bad as them.

To qualify as a heresy worthy of condemnation, the "heresy" should have an intrinsic connection to doctrines of the church in question. Someone who merely disagrees with the Church as an outsider is not a heretic — non-followers are more properly called "nonbelievers" (or "infidels", less politely). Heresy was distinguished from heathenism or paganism in that a heathen blasphemed simply because he or she was ignorant of God's light, whereas a heretic was a Christian, and knowingly contradicted the teachings of God and his Church. As long as heathens did not endanger the Christian faith (and usually as long as local Christians could not aspire to convert them), then it was generally okay to do trade with them. However, a heretic who modified the doctrines of Christianity while still claiming to be Christian was dangerous to the unity of the Faith. For instance, Hypatia of Alexandria, Wiccans, and Buddhists are not considered "heretics" to the Catholic religion, but Padre Ned Reidy was put on trial for heresy.

Much like Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters in the political realm, those whom the Church labels "heretics" often claim that they're actually "reformers" or "purifiers". Christian theologian Irenaeus popularized the word heresy in the Christian world in his anti-Gnostic tracts. Multiple heretics often form a Cult. Heresies are often named for their leader, e.g. Arianism, propagated by Arius. If these groups persist and grow, they can become "denominations" of a religion, e.g. Lutheranism, founded by Martin Luther. Even Islam has been occasionally called a heresy by Christians.

Compare Thought Crime and Illegal Religion. For deviations or treason against the Canon of fictional media and/or their fandoms, see Fandom Heresy.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Lenard and Elfetine's sect in Scrapped Princess. However, their "heresy" was provoked by Lenard, who is an (overly ambitious) cleric himself, in the first place.
  • Heresy is a common charge leveled against people in Berserk, particularly by those who serve the Holy See. The Count from the third major manga story uses the charge of heresy to get himself people to eat, being an Apostle. And Mozgus in particular is very much merciless in dealing with those who he considers heretics. The true heretics themselves (at least Slan's cult) are not much better.
  • Arachne from Soul Eater is described as a "heretic Witch" because of the way she created the original magical Weapons features in the series, namely, by fusing a normal human soul with a weapon, as well as a soul of a Witch (holding the power of transformation). Thus, she's hunted not just by the good guys, but her fellow witches.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Aleister Crowley was once one of the greatest sorcerers in the world, but then he decided to defect to the Science Side. Given that there is a secret Magic Versus Science war going on, he's become one of the most hated figures on the Magic Side.
    • Richard Brave is a sorcerer who wields a Flaming Sword called Lævateinn. The Magic Side declares him a heretic because the sword uses a combination of magic and science to work instead of pure magic. In response to the Magic Side dissing his finest creation, Richard declares his hatred of the Magic Side and tries to get revenge.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • A Clash Of NEETS: Claire Greyjoy (actually the reincarnated Claire Shinfornea, replacing Asha Greyjoy in this universe) is one of the few Ironborn who worships the Seven Goddesses of the mainlanders, and not the Drowned Goddess. Mostly because she's met the Drowned Goddess, aka Nyarko-San, and would like nothing better than to file a restraining order against her.

  • In Kenau, what a lot of Dutch people are, according to the Spanish. The persecution of Protestants is the main reason the Low Countries rose in revolt against Spain. It is also the reason why Kenau's daughter is burned, and triggers her anger against the Spanish so much that she goes from Refusal of the Call to Jumped at the Call in no time.
  • Assassin's Creed (2016): The Spanish Inquisition (the 15th/16th century Templars) consider Aguilar and the other Assassins to be such, and burns them at the stake for it. The exact nature of it is vague because it's not really about heresy but the Templars getting rid of their enemies and using this as a public excuse (the real Templars actually had this happen to them, although much earlier, and they were disbanded by the Pope).
  • Blood of the Tribades: Many vampires are persecuted by the priests for violating their doctrines, such as by drinking blood that isn't Bathor's, letting others feed on it, or revealing that the cause of their disease is the blood of Bathor.
  • The Holy Office: The Carvajales and the rest of crypto-Jews are burned at the stake for this crime.

  • The Damned One is history's greatest heretic in Arcia Chronicles. The twist in his case is that he is actually St. Erasti, one of the most (if not the most) revered saints of The Church. This knowledge was so dangerous that the Church erased all connections between St. Erasti and the Damned One from history after his defeat.
  • The Preacher in Children of Dune certainly counts as this. He wanders the cities and settlements on the planet Arrakis, speaking out against the religion that has grown around the late Paul Atreides and his sister Alia. Of course it turns out that the Preacher actually is Paul, having walked blind into the desert several years before, thus essentially excommunicating himself from the dogmatic power structure that he had begun to hate.
  • Oelita, the Gentle Heretic, in Courtship Rite, preaches against cannibalism and the belief that the moving light in the sky is a god. When our heroes are told of her by the clan leader, they assume they're going to be sent to kill her, and are shocked to learn that they're being ordered to marry her, and bring her congregation under Kaiel influence.
  • Discworld:
    • The Omnian church indegenerated into this from its original purpose. Discworld gods need belief to survive, but as their religion gets more and more elaborate, people believed in the rituals and ceremonies more than the god itself, until Om was almost starved and the church became a totalitarian nightmare, with a special Quisition being formed to root out heretics in their own fold. They they started looking for heretics (and witches) abroad, such as those who might preach ridiculous nonsense like the world being flat and carried on the back of a giant turtle, when every good Omnian knows the world is round. Small Gods shows how they finally got out of this mindset thanks to Om's last true believer (the book has simultaneously been called an attack on, and a defense of, Christianity). The later The Science of Discworld IV features an unreconstructed Omnian fundamentalist who comes very close to accusing Om of heresy.
    • As mentioned in The Fifth Elephant, dwarfs think they have no religion, but "being a dwarf" is a religion. Thud! introduces the deep-down grags, who seem to believe almost all dwarfs are heretics of this religion. By Raising Steam, they are described as being well on their way to suspecting each other of heresy, based on any form of dissent whatsoever.
  • In the Disgaea novels we meet angel Ozonne who propagates beliefs that go against Celestia's official dogma and is considered to be a heretic, but she is not excommunicated for it because the big boss Seraph Lamington want to let heretics run free.
  • In The Divine Comedy, heretics can be found in the sixth circle of Hell. Their punishment is to lie in flaming tombs. The ones we see are there because they were Epicureans, which was considered heresy because Epicurus's deistic beliefs (he thought that the gods lived far off and paid no attention to mortal lives, and that the soul died with the body) contradicted major points of Christian doctrine.
  • David Eddings' novels:
  • In the satirical poem Jobsiade (1784) by Carl Arnold Kortum, Jobs is examined on his theological knowledge, including the question what the Manichean heresy and their error was. Since his knowledge ends outside the pubs he regularly visits, Jobs' answers ("They thought I would pay them after all, but I managed to bilk them at the end!") are only secundum ordinem (English: Epic Fail).
  • The Machineries of Empire: in the Hexarchate, people who refuse to follow the High Calendar (which warps reality to produce exotic effects) are considered heretics. Some are reformed, while others are tortured on holidays.
  • Merkabah Rider: The Rider's evil mentor Adon, who turns on his order and then pursues Mythos sorcery.
  • The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco, entirely revolves around the theme of the thin line between orthodoxy and heresy, and what happens when people cross it.
  • Of Fire and Stars: In Mynaria, the Recusants are a dissident sect who, unlike the majority, not only view magic as good but revere it (it's apparently made up mostly of magic users). Though the majority are told Recusants don't believe in the Six Gods, this turns out to be false-they believe magic is their gift. It leads to increasing violent conflict with the Mynarian fundamentalists.
  • Safehold: The Church of God Awaiting brands the entire nation of Charis as being heretics, mainly because they had the gall to survive the Church's attempts to obliterate them out of sheer paranoia. So far, despite having called down a holy war upon the Charisians, they have yet to learn that many of the leaders of Charis really are heretics, although the heresy they believe in (that the Archangels were not really divine messengers) is actually true.
  • Star Wars Legends:
  • The Stormlight Archive: Jasnah Kholin, sister to the King of Alethkar, is an avowed atheist in a world where people have trouble even understanding the concept of not following the major religion. Her uncle Dalinar, who is himself staunchly religious, greatly respects her for being honest instead of pretending for the sake of appearances. Dalinar himself starts drifting into heresy by the third book as he discovers how far off the mark the Vorin faith's teachings are.
  • St. Thomas Aquinas writes in his Summa Theologiae, Part II-II, Q. 11, that heretics not only should not be tolerated but also deserve to be excommunicated and handed over to a secular tribunal, where they may be put to death. This is because the heretic seeks to distort Christian doctrine, which will lead a Christian astray and subsequently damn him, which is a graver matter than, say, forging money.
  • Lots of this in the Tales of the Branion Realm series, which features a divine royal family whose monarch is a God in Human Form, the Vessel of the Living Flame.
    • Book 1: A prince rebels against his mother, which given her status is both heresy and treason.
    • Book 2: A Seer priest is part of a conspiracy to murder the Vessel, repents, and joins the Heir's protectors. The leader in charge of this Ragtag Bunch of Misfits follows an entirely different faith, and his own God has ordered him to protect the Flame's Vessel — possibly to ensure that its own followers are treated better in the Flame's country.
    • Book 3: The Vessels themselves are heretics, having converted to a different religion and trapping the Flame within their own bodies; the protagonists rescue It by seducing the Vessel, having his firstborn son and raising him to kill his father — also heresy, since this is like killing Jesus to free God from his human prison.
    • Book 4: The protagonists are a heretic cult, trying to give the other three Elemental Powers their own avatars.
  • High Priest Rheaesi in The Will Be Done zig-zags it a bit; he's not technically a heretic, but the Church pretty much views him as such, and he gets executed in the end.

    Live-Action TV 
  • skekGra from The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance' was originally titled the Conqueror, but when he received a vision from Thra that convinced him the Skeksis and the Mystics must become one again, he was cast out by his brethren and forced into exile along with his Mystic counterpart urGoh the Wanderer.
  • The Resistance movement in the pilot of Lexx were known as the Heretics against the Divine Order, with their leader Thodin being the Arch-Heretic.
  • The reformation had just started at the start of The Tudors, but gained momentum as the series went on. Because of that the list grew ever longer. Here goes: Anne Boleyn, Thomas Cromwell, Archbishop Cranmer, Thomas Boleyn, Catherine Parr, Anne Parr, Edward Seymour, Anne Stanhope, Thomas Seymour, The Duchess of Suffolk, Kate Ashley and Anne Askew. Some of them suffered for it, all the others at least lived in fear of discovery.
    • Elizabeth and Edward are also raised this way.
    • During the course of the series quite a few minor characters got burned and tortured for this reason as well.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: All members of the resistance groups are heretics according to the Republic of Gilead, and punished for this, not anything else. That's because officially, there isn't a resistance.
  • Perry Mason (2020): Sister Alice is denounced by many of her own congregation after claiming she will raise little Charlie from the dead, feeling this is blasphemy. They even split off to form their own church and say they won't come back until she is brought down by failure or recants.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Muerte Cibernetica and Ozz were this in La AAA Secta started by Cibernetico, as they each attempted to shift the focus of the religion from worship against Antonio Pena to worship of themselves. Although Cibernetico was able to defeat both men in the ring, he ultimately lost his influence as a religious leader, for whatever that's worth.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000's theocratic Imperium of Man has a saying: "light your way in the darkness with the pyres of burning heretics." The civil war that almost destroyed it after its founding and put the God-Emperor on life-support is labeled the Horus Heresy, there's an entire Ordo of the Inquisition devoted to rooting out heresy, and being executed for heresy is just one of the many ways to die in the 41st millennium.
    • Of course, in this case they have a point: the Chaos Gods reward such activities as bloodshed, betrayal, sadism, and spreading disease. Faith in the Emperor is just about the only defense Imperial citizens have against Chaos.
    • The Imperium is just so big that the more realistic Ecclesiarchs have given up on ever achieving a uniform Imperial Cult, and must tolerate Him on Earth being worshiped according to different worlds' customs - Humanity's unifier made divine, a sun deity, the Omnissiah, the Allfather, etc. But at the same time, groups like Genestealer Cults, to say nothing of covens dedicated to the Dark Gods, are quite capable of masquerading as properly pious Imperial citizens until they're ready to sacrifice a planet to their dread masters. As a result, the Inquisition gets to spend a lot of time determining which religious groups fall within an acceptable level of deviance, and which need to be burned at the stake. As a rule, it errs on the side of caution.
      • Caution here being very much Depending on the Writer, with fandom often Flanderizing the Imperium as willing to glass a planet or twelve at the mere hint of heresy. Inquisitors themselves run the gamut from fanatically strict to those who are quite tolerant and reasonable to those themselves corrupted and willing to use Chaos-based means to fight heresy.
      • Thus, the use of the term "Heresy", in Imperial lexicon, does not necessarily mean deviation from religious doctrine, in contrast to the original meaning of the term. Deviations are allowed as long as you have a clear God-Emperor Figure to focus worship upon, such as a Messianic Archetype. In the context of the Imperium, the term "Heresy" actually refers to what real-world political and legal language would call "High Treason", and what theological language would call "apostasy"; betrayal of the State to outside enemies such as the Chaos Gods or rival Xenos empires. Shouting "HERESY!" is just a more medieval and awesome way to call political dissidents or traitors to the State.
    • Ironically, the Imperial Cult was founded on the teachings of Lorgar, Primarch of the Word Bearers and the first Primarch to fall to Chaos — the very first heretic.
    • Not so ironically, the Imperial Cult really is heresy, because the Emperor himself preached an Imperial Truth of science, rationality, and enforced disbelief in the Warp... which in and of itself did about jack shit since the Chaos Gods only need people to feel emotions to gain power, and all it did was leave some of the most powerful of his warriors either ignorant or underestimating their insidious ways until it was too late. Like Lorgar, who was suffering from a Heroic BSoD after the Emperor brutally shattered his desire to worship him by destroying his crown jewel of a city and anyone who refused to leave and reprimanded him and his Legion in public when a few members of his Legion came to him about gods who would gladly accept his worship...
    • There are also heretics who deviate from the Imperium's other orthodoxy, the Cult Mechanicus. These "hereteks" usually start out as tech-priests who chafe under the Cult's strict restrictions on innovation and study of Xeno technology, and start experimenting with new designs and reverse-engineering captured alien tech, fully intending to better mankind through their work. This being 40k, there's some very good reasons these things are forbidden, and most hereteks end up taking a flying leap off the slippery slope sooner or later and going full over to Chaos, if they don't get themselves killed first. And if that wasn't enough, there's a very good chance they (unknowingly) are heretics- the Omnissiah is supposed to be an aspect of the God-Emperor, but it's strongly hinted that it's actually a C'tan Eldritch Abomination known as the Void Dragon, who has power over machines. So while the lower members of the Mechanicus are always happy to discover Necron tomb worlds and poke around until the Necrons wake up, the higher-ups know perfectly well what they're doing.
    • The Player Characters of Black Crusade are Chaos followers, and books always refer to them as "the Heretics".
  • Seen every now and then in Eberron concerning the Church of the Silver Flame. Occasional Dark Six cults might qualify as this within the Sovereign Host. There are also a few groups such as the Three Faces cults and the Sacred Spark, who are unusual in that they worship both members of the Sovereign Host and one of the Dark Six as two sides of the same coin (or three sides, for the Three Faces), and so are seen as heretics by most devout of the Sovereign Host and the Dark Sixnote 
  • Anyone from Exalted working with the Anathema (that is, anyone working with your player character).
    • There is a growing number of these in Autochthon. And sometimes they are right.
  • In Ironclaw there are several heterodoxies of the Church of S'allumer besides the orthodox Penitence. While the Monophysismites are considered outright heretics for believing that the church's founders actually came from another world.

    Theme Parks & Attractions 
  • At the London Dungeon, there's a section based on the Reign of Terror of the Catholic queen Mary Tudor. Visitors are told about the burnings of Protestants, and one of them is usually invited on stage to be "burnt at the stake".

    Video Games 
  • In Blasphemous, there is the Brotherhood of the Silent Sorrow, a covenant of warriors of whom the player character, the Penitent One, is a member. The Brotherhood was excommunicated when their mission came to oppose Escribar, the head of the Cvstodian Church. Whatever the incident, it very likely involves the Penitent One's sword, the Mea Culpa.
  • In Crusader Kings 2, characters can adopt a variety of historical heresies. They tend to be loathed by anyone from the main religion, and imprisoned and forced to convert back. Unless a very powerful king adopts the heresy, in which case the same thing typically happens to the orthodox faithful.
    • The Sons of Abraham expansion for the game gives heresies the ability to supplant their parent as the mainstream faith, reducing the old beliefs to being seen as heretical themselves in the process. The earlier Legacy of Rome expansion allowed the Great Schism to be mended by a sufficiently successful still-Orthodox Byzantium, reducing Catholicism to a heresy of Orthodoxy.
    • The sequel, Crusader Kings 3, has a mechanic which causes adherents of a religion with low fervor to adopt one of a huge variety of possible procedurally generated heresies. Usually such heretics will be killed or forced to convert back by more powerful rulers, but as in 2, it's possible for them to gain power and supplant historically dominant faiths.
  • Nero rejects the teachings of his church to save his lover, Kyrie, in Devil May Cry 4. It helps that Nero has a better understanding of who Sparda was than the Order's elite, and that Sanctus, the head of the Order, was a power-mad bastard with no understanding of love at all.
  • Dragon Age: The Chantry serves as the dominant faith for most of Thedas, but it was actually established as a project of the Orlesian Empire to consolidate their power throughout the known setting, and many Andrastian cults preceded it. As such, there is a huge list of schismatic groups that are branded heretical:
    • The Imperial Chantry is the Tevinter Imperium's state religion that broke off from the main one due to differing interpretations over the commandment of magic. The Chant of Light teaches that "magic should serve men, not rule over him", the Tevinters interpreted it as magic should serve the greater good and not control men's minds in order to grant freedom to their own mages. They established their own Chantry with their own male Divine and clerics (the mainstream Chantry clergy is Always Female because they believe Females Are More Innocent), being more tolerant of magic and their own separate teachings like believing Andraste to be an powerful mage.
    • The Disciples of Andraste were an insular Path of Inspiration that managed to steal her ashes after her body burned at the stake and safeguarded it in a temple located in the Frostback Mountains between the border of Orlais and Ferelden. After centuries, the group began to worship a High Dragon believing her to be Andraste reincarnated. By the time of the third game, the Chantry has retaken the Temple of Sacred Ashes and driven the cult underground.
    • The Blades of Hessarian are a cult that derive their name from the Tevinter that slayed Andraste and now follow his example by delivering judgment upon the weak and corrupt. The Chantry believes their supposed founder, a slave named Trefir who stole the sword used to kill her, likely never existed and is a pure fabrication.
    • The Order of the Fiery Promise is an Apocalypse Cult who preaches that the world must be destroyed so it can be reborn as an new paradise. Though they were apparently destroyed in open combat during the Chantry's earliest days, they managed to survive and infiltrate their orders - specifically the Seekers of Truth. Considering their aims and persistence, they have very good reasons to be declared heretics.
    • Several minor heresies were also mentioned in the backstory like the Empty Ones (a short lived cult that also believed the Darkspawn were a punishment from the Maker on mankind for killing Andraste and allowed themselves to be devoured by the horde) and the Daughters of Song (a hedonistic group whose male members also called themselves "daughters" and focused on the carnal aspects of Andraste).
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the Dissident Priests were heretics to the Tribunal Temple, disputing several points of dogma (though this appears to have been partly a response to being persecuted for questioning Temple policy, which isn't exactly heresy even if the Temple called it that). The Tribunal Temple also persecutes the Nerevarine Cult as heretics (technically they are, just not really of the Temple, seeing as they developed in parallel in response to the same event and from the same source religion. It's actually the Temple who made the most radical changes of dogma, the Nerevarine Cult just explained away the new gods as false gods and added in a messiah figure). Both of those change towards the end of the main quest, with the Dissident Priests acknowledged as having had a point with much of what they said and the Nerevarine Cult recognised as being right about the messiah figure thing, both by one of the gods of the Tribunal himself.
    • Actually subverted in the case of the Nerevarine prophecy — while the Temple considers it a folk superstition and persecutes the Ashlanders who believe it, when you actually show up and start fulfilling the prophecy, you get a letter from the local Archcanon. You see, they're not sure if you're a legitimate reincarnation of St. Nerevar ... so they're going to do their damnedest to try and kill you, as a sort of test. If you really are the Nerevarine, something so petty as a full inquisitorial process could hardly keep you from fulfilling your prophecies, now could it?
    • At the time of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the worship of the god Talos is considered heresy in the Empire due to the White-Gold Concordat, a peace treaty between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion, including banning Talos worship as one of its terms. However, the Empire does not enforce this very strictly and the Dominion has to send agents into the Empire's more rebellious provinces to ensure that Talos worship is suppressed, and the Stormcloak Rebellion began because Ulfric Stormcloak refused to abide by the terms and allowed Talos worship. The Dragonborn can outright state that they follow Talos, or be noncommittal as to what gods they follow, which will provoke Dominion agents to try to kill them for heresy.
  • Yuna becomes a heretic in Final Fantasy X when she resolves to reject the teachings of Bevelle and fight Sin to destruction.
    • Happens to quite a few people in that game, notably the Crusaders being excommunicated for their use of machina, despite their perfectly good intentions and their continued belief in Yevon.
      • Not to mention the clergy actually backed the attempt to use machina to fight Sin. As soon as it failed, they pretended otherwise.
  • Ramza from Final Fantasy Tactics gets branded as a heretic when he runs afoul of their Ancient Conspiracy and kills a (demon-possessed) bishop in self defense. On the other hand, Olan Durai is also burned at stake for trying to reveal the truth behind The Lion War and Ramza's unsung heroism.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has Ishgard’s official religion deem any who turn against them as heretics, which naturally means that the heretics become more desperate and willing to go to extremes. The most prominent heretics are those that drink dragon blood (willingly or not), becoming infused with the rage of the Dravanian Horde and eager to fight against Ishgard, in some cases even becoming dragons themselves. Heavensward gives the full picture and complicated things immensely: those that drink dragon’s blood retain their senses; they were already driven to rage by the horrible handling of the “unworthy” by the church. The church is also massively corrupt, labeling anyone they don’t like as heretics to get rid of them. And the truth is that drinking dragon’s blood does nothing to those that are not already descended from dragons, which includes the entire population of Ishgard, as they once lived in harmony with dragons before they willfully betrayed and murder Ratatoskr out of a lust for power. The standard method of testing a suspected heretic involves throwing them off a cliff: if they’re a heretic, they’ll turn into a dragon and fly, at which point they’ll be killed. If they’re not a heretic, they’ll be taken into the God Halone’s grace (aka they’ll die horribly).
  • The Heretic Leader from Halo 2, an Elite who learned the truth about the "Great Journey" from 343 Guilty Spark and tried to warn the rest of the Covenant. The Arbiter is also branded a heretic at the beginning for his failure in the previous game, but that's really just an excuse to have him executed for his failure. He abandons his own religious beliefs after discovering the truth about the Covenant and ends up leading a splinter faction which allies with the "heathen" humans.
  • The eponymous character from Heretic, of course. The Heretics in question were the Sidhe elves, the only race of beings not subject to the sorcerous mind control of the Serpent Riders, and thus targeted for extermination by their minions.
  • League of Legends and Legends of Runeterra: The moonlight-themed champion Diana was intentionally designed as a foil to the sun-wielding paladin-figure Leona—a heretic of the sun-worshipping Solari who sought to know why references to the moon seemed to be censored in Solari texts, and whose inquiry led her to one of two paths:
    • In the original, pre-Institute of War retcon lore, Diana (who had long found more comfort in the moon than the sun, and tried to convince her fellow Solari of their value) found an encoded message that could only be read under moonlight—leading her to a hidden temple with armor and a crescent-shaped relic weapon. She went back wearing the armor with the weapon, trying to use it as proof that others once worshipped the moon as she did—only to be branded a heretic and condemned to death for her efforts. At her execution, she called upon the moon—and as a surge of moonlight broke her bindings, she used her newfound power to slaughter the elders that condemned her. After that, she pledged to bring down anyone who would deny the moon’s power.
    • In the current, modern lore, Diana found a mural suggesting that both sun and moon used to be worshipped together, with the sun and moon alike shining bright at Mount Targon’s peak. She ended up climbing Mount Targon to prove her point—after reaching the peak, she became the host of the Aspect of the Moon. There, she learned the existence of a hidden second sect, the moon-worshipping Lunari—before finding Leona, who had followed her up the mountain. After a battle with her old friend, who had been chosen as the Aspect of the Sun, she rushed down the mountain to confront the Solari elders with proof that the sun and moon need not conflict. The Aspect’s power coursed through her in rage, leading her to slaughter the elders. In this version, however, the deaths were implied to be the result of Diana not having full control of her Aspect’s power—and she still believes the Solari and Lunari need not fight.
    • As part of the Lunari, Aphelios and his sister Alune also qualify to an extent—as do the Lunari cards of Legends of Runeterra’s Targon faction, which have an opposite mechanic to the Solari’s Daybreak mechanic in Nightfall. Aphelios’s story suggests that for cosmological reasons, the balance of power between Solari and Lunari might be changing soon...
    • In a double example in the Targon Tales of Runeterra cinematic, two Star-Crossed Lovers, one Solari, one Lunari, share the view that their respective sects need not fight. A stray arrow from a Solari warrior mortally wounds one—and while both ultimately die, their spirits ascend the mountain to the Celestial Realm at an eclipse regardless.
    • In a non-Targon example, Karthus the Deathsinger joined the Order of the Tallymen of Kindred (a collection of gravediggers, pyre-builders, corpse collectors and carers for the dying who follow Kindred, the incarnation of death) and rose to become quite prominent in the order. Once he decided he could learn no more about death from mortals, he traveled to the Shadow Isles and transformed himself into an immortal lich who trapped the souls of his victims in an undead state like himself, making him an abomination to Kindred, to whom unnatural prolonging of life beyond one's time is the greatest evil.
  • In Mass Effect 2, it is revealed that the Geth the player had been fighting in Mass Effect were actually a fanatical splinter group called Heretics by the True Geth. Making up about five percent of the total Geth population, Legion emphasises that the Heretics chose to worship the Reapers, instead of upholding the rather non-religious notion of self-determination of the True Geth. The codex calls attention to the use of the word 'heretic' as opposed to any other choice (dissidents, rebels, nonconformists, separatists, etc.), noting the religious and philosophical nature of such a word.
  • In Medieval II: Total War, regions where your faith isn't overwhelmingly dominant may spawn Heretics, or even convert a Priest you have stationed there to heresy. Since Heretics spread heresy and cause religious unrest, it's a good idea to have your Priests subject them to trials and burn them at the stake. If you're Catholic and you don't deal with Heretics, The Pope will send Inquisitors to your lands to start examining family members.
  • In Path of Exile, Elreon was banished for his heretical views, notably that thaumaturgy isn't inherently evil and Vol was an idiot for trying to destroy magic. The Templar player character is also derided as a heretic, though the nature of his heresy is vaguer.
  • Byakuren Hijiri from Touhou Project is a heretic by the virtue of being compassionate to the Youkai. In this setting, the very presence of Celestial beings can harm Youkai regardless of either sides' morality.
    • Before that, there was Rikako Asakura, who was branded heretical for believing in science over magic.
  • Billy from Xenogears rejects the doctrines of his church once he learns of its sponsorship and purpose.
  • Pellegri from Xenosaga stops just short of accusing her superior, Margulis, of heresy when he questions the authority of Lord Heinlein.
    • On that note, Shion and Jin, who both are likely to have extensive ties to the Ormus religion - physically beat the crap out of The Pope at the end of Episode II.
  • The Priest legacy from Cultist Simulator. Officially, they're the Christian priest of a quiet parish. However, their teachings soon become sprinkled with Things Man Was Not Meant to Know, and they seek to ascend to become a gate through which their followers can ascend. They still identify as Christian, more or less; they just believe Jesus was an occultist aligned to one of the myriad Eldritch Abominations of the Cultist Simulator world, and follow his path through brutal self-mortification.
  • In Enter the Gungeon, unlockable player character The Bullet is a Bullet-kin who had turned away from their brethren in the Cult of the Gundead, to join up with the Gungeoneers in their pursuit of the Gun That Can Kill The Past. He wields a sword (named 'Blasphemy', and which can block incoming bullets), in a context where wielding any kind of melee weapon is treated as a grave sin.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, Kubitarou was branded as such when, in a fit of anger, she cut down the sacred cedar tree that was used as a place of worship. Doing so angered the townsfolk to the point that they tied her up to its sister tree and left her there to starve to death.
  • Roa from Tsukihime got excommunicated for becoming a vampire on his quest for immortality. He then got excommunicated by the vampires for reasons unexplained.

  • Selkie: Ti'Veirn was a Sarnothi scholar who was exiled and declared a heretic for proposing that human legends of witches and wizards might have been inspired by humans who could tap into the resonance, a power universally considred to be Sarnothi-exclusive. Events in the comic proper suggest that he was probably right.
  • In 70-Seas Lewk is a rogue priest of Lapak who absconded with several holy relics and is relentlessly pursued by the Church's inquisitors. Though most of the time he seems like just a con artist who incorporates religious stuff into his scams.

    Real Life 


Alternative Title(s): Heresy